Alabama Cruises Past Georgia State
TUSCALOOSA – Quarterback AJ McCarron set a school record for completion percentage in a game and threw four first-half touchdown passes as top-ranked Alabama (5-0 overall; 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference) scored touchdowns on its first five offensive possessions on the way to a 45-3 win over Georgia State (0-5 overall) on a warm, humid, sunny Homecoming Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 101,254 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
McCarron completed his first 12 pass attempts on the way to completing 15 of 16 passes for 166 yards and four touchdowns, connecting with wide receiver DeAndrew White four times for 45 yards and a touchdown. He also found wide receiver Christion Jones, running back Kenyan Drake and running back Jalston Fowler for touchdowns as five different Tide players scored touchdowns in the first half. McCarron’s 93.75 percent accuracy rate set a record for Alabama passers, surpassing the 84.2 percent mark set by Ken Stabler who competed 16 of 19 against Ole Miss on Oct. 1, 1966.
Fifteen different players caught at least one pass for Alabama, led by Chris Black’s five catches for 53 yards and one touchdown. Reserve quarterback Blake Sims completed 13 of 17 attempts for 129 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, Alabama’s defense was stifling against the Panthers, limiting GSU to 175 total yards (15 rushing, 160 passing). Linebacker C.J. Mosley led the Alabama defense with six tackles, including two for losses.
Harrison Jones took GSU’s short opening kickoff at the Alabama 20-yard line and returned it nine yards to set up the Crimson Tide offense for its first possession. Alabama then took the ball to start the game and charged 71 yards in seven plays to a touchdown. The drive started with a 28-yard run by T.J. Yeldon on the first play to the Panthers’ 43-yard line. McCarron passed to tight end O.J. Howard for 13 yards to the GSU 30. A pass to Christion Jones gained two and a Yeldon rush gained one more to set up third-and-seven at the GSU 27. McCarron converted the play into a first down on a seven-yard pass to receiver Kevin Norwood to the GSU 20. McCarron then hit Jones for 12 yards to the Panther eight-yard line before another pass to Jones yielded eight more and a touchdown. Cade Foster’s kick gave Alabama a 7-0 lead with 11:46 left in the first quarter.
After a Georgia State punt, the Alabama offense took over at the Tide 40 and embarked on another scoring march, this one moving 60 yards in seven plays and consuming 4:04 of game time. Yeldon gained seven on a draw play to start the drive, then gained three more for a first down at the 50 before taking a carry up the middle for eight more to the GSU 42. McCarron then found wide receiver DeAndrew White for a 13-yard pass play to the Panther 29, the then duo connected again for 11 more to the GSU 18. Another McCarron pass on the next play to tight end Brian Vogler gained nine yards to the Panther nine before a substitution infraction by GSU moved the Tide to the GSU four. From there, Yeldon took a handoff over left guard for four yards and a touchdown. Foster’s kick gave Alabama a 14-0 lead with 3:08 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Alabama’s Dee Hart caused GSU’s Kelton Hill to fumble on the return and the Tide’s Dillon Lee recovered at the GSU 16. Lee returned the fumble for six yards to set up the Tide at the Panther 10. Alabama wasted no time capitalizing as McCarron threw to White, who made a difficult catch over a defender near the back corner of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown play. Foster’s kick gave Alabama a 21-0 lead with 2:55 left in the opening quarter.
Alabama scored again on its next possession to move the score to 28-0, driving 62 yards in five plays to its fourth touchdown in four possessions.
Starting from the Tide 38, McCarron passed to White for 11 yards to start the drive. From the UA 49, his deep pass for Jones was incomplete at the goal line but GSU’s Rashad Stewart was flagged for pass interference to move the Tide to the GSU 36. Running back Kenyan Drake took a handoff and gained seven yards over right end to the GSU 29. After another Drake run gained two on the first play of the second quarter, Drake took a McCarron pass in the right flat, broke loose of a tackler, and raced 23 yards to a touchdown as he leaped over the corner pylon for the touchdown. Foster’s kick gave Alabama a 28-0 lead with 13:48 left in the second quarter.
Following a 65-yard punt into the Alabama end zone by GSU’s Matt Hubbard, the Tide began the next possession at the UA 20-yard line. Alabama embarked on its fifth consecutive touchdown march of the game, this one going 80 yards in eight plays and consuming 3:29 of game clock. An 18-yard pass by McCarron to Kenny Bell started the march, McCarron’s 12th consecutive completion to start the game (third-best streak in Tide history). After an incompletion on the next play, running back Jalston Fowler rumbled over right end for 13 yards to the GSU 49. A pass to Norwood gained nine yards followed by a 19-yard completion to Kenny Bell to the GSU 21. McCarron then hit Norwood for two yards on a crossing pattern to the GSU 19, but a holding penalty on the Panthers erased it and moved the ball to the Panther 11. Fowler then rushed for eight yards over left guard to the GSU three before taking another handoff over left guard for two more to the Panther one-yard line. On the next play, McCarron faked a handoff and tossed a short pass to Fowler for a touchdown. Foster’s kick extended the lead to 35-0 for Alabama with 6:11 left in the first half.
The Tide defense forced another punt on the next GSU possession and Alabama took over at its own 46-yard line. Blake Sims took over at quarterback for the Tide. A handoff to Drake gained five to the GSU 49, then Sims passed to Norwood on a crossing pattern for 26 yards to the Panther 23. Drake took a handoff over left guard and stormed for 22 yards to the GSU one-yard line. A false start penalty moved the Tide back five yards to the GSU six-yard line. Running back Dee Hart was stopped for a four-yard loss to set up second-and-goal from the GSU 10. Another false start set back the offense five more yards, creating a second-and-goal from the GSU 15. Hart failed to gain on a rush on the next play to set up a third-and-goal at the 15. From the shotgun, Sims was flushed from the pocket and gained six yards to the GSU 9. That set up a 27-yard field goal attempt by Foster that was good to give Alabama a 38-0 lead with 36 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Taking the kickoff to start the second half, the Panthers marched to a score by moving 46 yards in nine plays to a school-record 53-yard field goal by Wil Lutz that cut the Alabama lead to 38-3 with 11:20 left in the third quarter.
Alabama’s offense, comprised mostly of reserves, took its first possession of the second half and scored another touchdown. Sims engineered a 68-yard march in 10 plays on a drive that took 5:02 of the clock. Sims completed passes of 12 yards to tight end Harrison Jones and hit receiver Chris Black for three completions on the march, with tosses of seven, 16 and 10 yards. The final Black connection was for a touchdown. Foster’s kick gave Alabama a 45-3 lead with 6:18 left in the third quarter.
An 11-play, 68-yard drive to the Panther 12 ended in futility for the Tide, despite taking five minutes of game clock as Alabama misfired on a field goal with 13:44 left in the game. The march featured two rushes by Derrick Henry that gained 31 total yards but ended with a missed field goal by reserve placekicker Adam Griffith. It marked the first Alabama offensive possession of the day that did not yield points.
Courtesy: UA Media